Saturday, 16 October 2010

Review: FIFA 11 (DS & PSP)

EA Sports FIFA series has always provided a good quality of gameplay and entertainment for its many fans. Now the latest game, FIFA 11 promises to be better than ever before.

The game has even been hotly tipped to be the best-selling game of Christmas 2010 according to William Hill PLC , which certainly seems possible when you consider that the game managed to sell 2.6 million units in its first weekend of sales alone. This figure is almost unheard of for a sports franchise.

However, putting all the hype to one side for a moment, let's take a look at FIFA 11's new handheld console features.

Firstly, FIFA's use of licensed players and teams has always scored them brownie points over other football game franchises like Pro Evolution Soccer, and FIFA 11 contains over 30 officially licensed leagues, 500 licensed teams and more than 15,000 players to choose from.

The game also features a new Pro Passing System, whereby pass accuracy is determined by a gamer's ability to use the controls, and player skill, situation and urgency on the pitch. This means that now over striking or under striking the ball will mean inaccurate passes and more varied outcomes. New types of passes such as swerve passes also enable players to make a safer and more effective play.

Nevertheless, the biggest enhancement to FIFA 11 has to be the Personality+ System, which affects players, goal-keepers and even a CPU player's capability.  It sounds too good to be true, but the new system means a greater level of realism for the FIFA handheld games. 

For example, CPU opponents now have a entire repetoire of skill moves to exploit through the use of star player attributes and specific behaviours attributed to particular players.

 Goalkeepers also feature more prominently in this game. Alongside the standard FIFA career mode called Be A Pro FIFA 11 also introduces an all-new Be A Goalie mode, allows gamers to play as a goalie of their choice.

Here, the Personality+ System accurately reproduces the actions of a particular real-life Goalkeeper on the pitch, so if your goal-keeper has a longer reach than others, he will be more successful when diving for the ball. Some of the controls in this mode can seem a bit of a struggle, but is a worthwhile effort overall.

Goalkeepers are also now more aware of their surroundings and react more intelligently to potential goals from the opposing team. Goalkeepers can now sprint to cut off a loose ball before urgently scrambling back to defend the net, and they can even skillfully identify and react to lob shots.

However, unlike the major console versions of this game, it is impossible to cut to the main action of the game whilst in the goalie mode on the PSP and DS, which means that gamers could get bored of only seeing the action from the Goalkeeper's perspective.

The PSP version also features a new Fame mode.  Gamers can choose to begin their campaign as a player, player/manager or manager as you lead their club through fifteen seasons of club soccer.

Your success as a player or manager is ranked through the new Fame system. The better your performance the more Fame you receive and more prestigious offers will become available on your journey to become a football legend.

The Nintendo DS version of FIFA 11  also has its own new game mode called Ultimate Team. This mode allows players to collect a set of in-game trading cards (which can be purchased after completing certain activities in the standard game modes). These cards will upgrade the athletic abilities of your chosen team.

Both handheld consoles also feature the Soccer IQ mini-game, which is essentially a general knowledge quiz based on various football triva.

One further feature (exclusive to the Nintendo DSi or the PSP's Go! Cam function) uses the camera functions of either console to take a snapshot of the gamer's face, which can then be uploaded and placed on the face of any customised  football player. Thus, gamers can literally put themselves in the game.

However, it has to be said that despite a few minor tweaks to the overall gameplay, the handheld versions of FIFA 11 seem to pale in comparison to their major console counterparts. The game itself is adequate and is likely to be thoroughly enjoyed by fans of the series so far, but much of the content remains unchanged from previous versions, which is a little disappointing when you consider that the major consoles have a lot more variations. Having said that, the gameplay is solid and the graphics on both versions are pretty accurate.

In conclusion, FIFA 11 is a decent game with good graphics and entertaining gameplay which is likely to keep fans of the series occupied for a long time to come. However, the handheld versions do not quite compare to the finesse of the major console versions. Overall Rating: 8/10.

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